Amid the vibrant décor of Vega Mexican Cuisine, chefs treat patrons to a menu suffused with gooey quesadillas, piping-hot soups, house-made tortillas and salsas, and a host of organic ingredients. Diners can warm belly motors with a bowl of creamy poblano chili soup—corn kernels, potatoes, and mushrooms drenched in cheese—beneath the watchful eyes of a Frida Kahlo portrait or anchor fork tines in a salmon salad drizzled in a honey-chipotle creamy dressing. An eclectic assortment of chandeliers bathes colorful booths in warm lighting as dinnertime eaters sup on shrimp fajitas, which conceal adobo spices and Carmen Sandiego beneath a medley of onions, bell peppers, and cilantro.
Upon stepping up to the counter at Masala Kraft Cafe—two-time winner of a Best of Westchester award, diners feast their eyes on a host of vegetarian options bathed in traditional Indian spices and herbs. Owner Bela Mehta strives to serve the kind of quick, healthy food that is found on every corner in Mumbai, the city from which she hails. The entirely vegetarian menu features the Masala Kraft sandwich, a homemade veggie cutlet and cilantro chutney on grilled focaccia, and palak with onion kulcha, an authentic Indian spinach curry served with stuffed bread. One of their most popular delicacies is the dosa—crispy rice crepes wrapped around fillings such as spiced mashed potatoes—a street-food staple whose folded shape allows diners to eat on the go or burst into an epic Bollywood dance routine without spilling.
The menu at Frankie & Fanucci's Wood Oven Pizzeria is dominated by the offerings from the authentic 800-degree wood-burning oven, which chars the tasty toppings melting against thin crust dough and crispy panini rolls. The simple margherita pizza consists of fresh mozzarella from Brooklyn, imported italian plum tomatoes, and fresh basil (16", $16.95). Personal pizzas measuring 10 inches entice eaters with a smaller-sized saucer, a whole-wheat crust option, and more table room to build napkin skyscrapers reinforced with forks ($9.95-$12.95). The wood oven also blisters hot-pressed chicken provolone panini and its mix of provolone cheese, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and sweet roasted-garlic dressing ($8.95). Opposing cool textures of the pear and gorgonzola salad allot a small forest of mixed greens topped with roasted walnuts and pear dressing to prepizza palettes ($8.50). Pasta, available at the Mamaroneck location, teams with the scratch-made Grandma's Sunday Sauce to create flavor-saturated entrees such as cheese ravioli ($13.95). The Hartsdale Village location, mentioned in a New York Times article, imparts passionate discussions of sweets through the nutella pizzetta, where the delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread smoothes over pizza crust before being struck with a vanilla ice-cream meteor ($7.50).
Pas-Tina's, a repeat honoree on the Best of Westchester list, beguiles taste buds with old-world recipes conjured from fresh ingredients. Guests can eyeball the extensive menu over the lip of a house-made sangria aperitif ($8) or dip into a hot antipasto plate spotlighting clams, mussels, and shrimp backed by eggplant pinwheels and stuffed mushrooms ($11). Succulent slabs of filet mignon arrive surrounded by savory barola-wine moats guarded by uniformed mushroom sentries ($26), and the tilapia puttanesca sports chopped tomatoes, capers, olives, and a confetti of fresh basil ($23). The menu's two dozen generously portioned pasta dishes include tender gnocchi ($16) and king-size pillows of jumbo ravioli ($15) cuddled up with mozzarella security blankets. At dinner’s end, sweet teeth can sink into a choice of layered napoleon pastry, tiramisu, or tangy cheesecake (a $7 value).
Hurricane Grill & Wings showcases its library of more than 30 sauces in dishes that blend American, Mexican, and tropical influences. Their sauces' level of spiciness mimics hurricane intensity ratings, from the honey or mango barbecue options occupying Category 1 to the Ridiculously Hot Hurricane sauce in Category 5. In between sit flavors of ancho chili and lime, jamaican jerk, chipotle raspberry, and spicy sweet chili. Baskets of jumbo or boneless wings come tossed in guests’ sauces of choice, as do grilled chicken or mahi-mahi sandwiches.
Elsewhere on the menu are tropically themed selections such as firecracker shrimp tacos, Southwest-style churrasco steak, and Monterey jack-filled quesadillas, while the to-go menu can accommodate large gatherings, such as sports-watching parties or jury-duty reunions. Meanwhile, bottle and tap beers from Abita, Harpoon, Redhook, and many other breweries help subdue roaring mouth fires.
Chef Alvaro Camilo curates a culturally diverse selection of pastas, seafood, and steaks at Zagat-rated Caffé Azzurri. With a bar and two dining rooms, the eatery facilitates romantic, chandelier-lit dinners as easily as it enables quick glasses of wine with friends or sentient glasses of wine. Entrees marry the rustic traditions of Italian cuisine with the eclectic flavors of American recipes to create both classic entrees, such as potato gnocchi with basil pesto béchamel, and contemporary dishes, including the sesame Ahi tuna in a plum-ginger glaze. The décor may be the food’s most flattering garnish, as The New York Times lauds the venue's "lovely fixtures [that] cast a subdued glow on wood-paneled walls" and its "handsome wide-slatted window blinds," which block the bustle of the street outside.
Now an international brand of premium ice cream, Häagen-Dazs began as a humble, family-owned business in the Bronx. In the 1920s, Reuben Mattus sold his mother's fruit ices and ice-cream pops out of a horse-drawn wagon. For decades, the family business thrived, and around 1960, Reuben officially founded Häagen-Dazs. He chose the name to evoke Old World traditions and quality craftsmanship, the bedrocks of the brand. Originally, the ice cream came in just three flavors—vanilla, chocolate, and coffee—made from fine ingredients gathered from around the world, such as Belgian dark chocolate, hand-picked vanilla beans from Madagascar, and ice shaved from lunar glaciers. The resulting confections so delighted sweet teeth that the brand grew exponentially, leading to the creation of dozens of flavors and forays into sorbets and frozen yogurts.
Though Häagen-Dazs ice cream was immensely popular in grocery shops, their first parlor didn't open until 1976. Not far from the Mattus family's original ice-cream beat, the Brooklyn store sold ice cream as well as treats such as sundaes, shakes, and cakes. Shops eventually dotted the country and globe, wherein friendly ice-cream scoopers fill waffle cones, blend frosty coffee and ice-cream drinks, and wrap ice-cream cakes in bright ribbons.